Syracuse shocks No. 9 Notre Dame, holds on late in 65-60 road win

first_img Published on February 24, 2015 at 10:15 pm Contact Jesse: [email protected] | @dougherty_jesse SOUTH BEND, Ind. — It was as if Syracuse and Notre Dame were fighting to be the oddest team on the court at the end of the first half.On one end, the Orange ran its offense through reserve forward B.J. Johnson. He ran hard around screens, had the attention of all of his teammates whenever he got an inch of space and was the replacement for SU’s “big three” of Rakeem Christmas, Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije, who all sat for one reason or another.On the other end, the Fighting Irish — a team that predicates itself on 3-point shooting — made just two field goals in the final 10 minutes of the half and finished 2-of-13 from beyond the arc. Most were open shots that just didn’t fall. Brick after brick after brick.And even after No. 9 Notre Dame (24-5, 12-4 Atlantic Coast) shifted its approach out of the half, the game never regressed to normalcy. Even as Christmas fouled out with more than five minutes left in the game, Syracuse (18-10, 9-6) squeaked out its best win of the season, beating the Fighting Irish 65-60 at the Purcell Pavilion on Tuesday night.With Christmas having fouled out of the game down the stretch, the Orange rode Cooney’s clutch hand and 19 points from reserve sophomore forward B.J. Johnson to the win.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAt the start of the second half, Notre Dame ditched the 3-point line and did all it could to break down the zone off the dribble. And while doing so, the Fighting Irish also made a conscious effort to draw fouls number four and five on Christmas to knock him out of the game.A play after hitting a turnaround jumper to make the score 34-30 in SU’s favor, Bonzie Colson backed down Christmas on the baseline. When Colson formed a jump hook, Christmas eased off as Johnson contested and the baseline ref blew his whistle.Ron Patterson glanced sideways at the ref as he walked to the scorer’s table to say who the foul was on. Christmas stood, panting with his hands on his head. Everyone on the Syracuse bench, from head coach Jim Boeheim down to the managers, froze in place with the clock stopped at 13:47.The ref signaled Nos. “2” and “5” with his two hands. Christmas. The bench erupted in disbelief and the senior forward shot his hands to his sides.But Christmas didn’t come out of the game — a risk that benefited the Orange until Christmas fouled out with 5:18 left and SU leading 49-41.With the centerpiece of Syracuse’s offense and defense on the sideline, Notre Dame went on a small run that was quickly stopped by SU’s next-best option.Despite playing full games for the entire season, Cooney was subbed in and out of the first half due to an injury that has hampered his play in recent games. But when Christmas fouled out, Cooney lifted the Orange offense onto his back — sprained and all.An off-balance two from the corner, an end-of-the-shot-clock 3 in Steve Vasturia’s face and then a layup on the next possession helped Syracuse build a lead that barely held.Yet the Orange was able to exhale after Johnson dunked on the fast break and completed a three-point play with a free throw. As Chinonso Obokoh walked to the free-throw line with eight seconds remaining, Cooney smiled and clenched his fists by his chest.He then called freshman Kaleb Joseph and Gbinije to half court for a three-way hug. An early celebration for the most impressive win of Syracuse’s season. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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